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Friday, 14 February 2014

At the Bal

Tuesday, February 14th., Rue de Calais, Paris. 

I went to the new Bal Tabarin last night. I think it is the only ball in Paris that is open every night. I saw the famous "La Gouloue" there perched on a high chair at the bar; a round, vulgar, rather merry face, looking more like a bonne than a dancer and a dompteuse des lions

Louise Weber (1866 – 1929) , born in Alsace-Lorraine, was a French can-can dancer who performed under the stage name of La Goulue ("the glutton"). She also was referred to as the Queen of Montmartre. Having achieved both fame and fortune, in 1895 Weber decided to part company with the Moulin Rouge and strike out on her own. She invested a considerable amount of money into a show that travelled the country as part of a large fair; but her fans who had lined up to buy tickets at the Moulin Rouge did not take to the new setting, and her business venture turned into a dismal failure. Following the closure of her show, La Goulue disappeared from the public eye. Suffering from depression, she drank heavily and dissipated the small fortune she had accrued while dancing.

With an expenditure of 7 francs on drinks with another ex-dancer, I learned something about the life of the paid dancers in public balls. They get four francs a night, "et elles peuvent trouver de bons amis", said the ex-dancer, whose younger sister, a fine big girl with a clear complexion, was dancing the quadrille realiste on the floor. This sister I was told made 5,000 francs besides her pay as a dancer during the short season at the Jardin de Paris last year.

For more on the Bal Tabarin see 'A Paris night'

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